MSCIS Research Studies

Current Studies on Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Can you participate?

Our team is conducting a number of studies on important topics related to SCI. Here is a summary of our current studies. Some are now in a completion stage and others are still recruiting participants. If you have participated in any of these and would like more information, please let us know.

Validation of the SCI-QoLBDS: Cross Cultural Comparisons and Clinical Outcomes

The Spinal Cord Injury Quality of life Basic Data Set is a short and sweet measure that allow us to have an idea of many aspects of quality of life after SCI: overall, physical, psychological and social. With only one item per topic, it’s easy to complete and fast. We have completed our data collection and are now writing articles about our findings. Since this is an international project we want to know if the idea of quality of life is similarly understood and relevant to people with SCI across different countries. Our study focused on people with SCI in Brazil, Australia, Netherlands and US (Michigan and Colorado). Results suggest that this is indeed the case. This study is sponsored by the Craig Nielsen Foundation. For more information

The Effects of Gentamicin Intravesical Installations on Decreasing Urinary Infections in Patients with Neurogenic Bladder after SCI: A Clinical Trial

This clinical trial, funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), evaluates whether using Gentamicin Instillations can reduce the frequency of urinary tract infections (UTIs) among adults with SCI, thereby also improving their quality of life and community participation. The investigators are from both the Department of Physical Medicine (Tate, Rodriguez and Forchheimer) and the Division of Urology (Cameron) at Michigan Medicine. This trial is monitored by the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Currently several participants are enrolled in this study, and the study is currently recruiting additional participants. If you are interested in being part of this study and have a minimum of 3 UTIs per year, please contact Adrienne at adbpo@med.umich.eduor (734) 936-9474.

For information on bladder health and management after SCI see this link at the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC)

Neurogenic Bowel and Bladder Management after Spinal Cord Injury

We are honored to be funded by the US Department of Defense to study problems related to bowel and bladder dysfunction after SCI and what factors to consider when having to make these treatment decisions. We have interviewed a number of civilians and veterans to better understand how they addressed these issues. Currently, we are preparing a paper to reflect our findings. We wish to thank everyone who most kindly participated in these interviews and focus groups. This project could not be done without your input. For more information, questions or comments

Reinventing Yourself After SCI

This is a collaborative study, being conducted by Craig Hospital in Colorado, Kessler Rehabilitation in New Jersey and the University of Michigan to examine the effects of an intervention designed to increase SCI specific and general self-efficacy beliefs, enhance emotional wellbeing, increase resilience and improve participation in society for people with SCI. Participants are randomized into one of three groups: 1) a group that participates in six virtual training sessions (using Zoom for Health) and will also receive written and on-line resources; 2) a group that receives the written and on-line resources; and 3) a group that only conducts the study’s assessments. Including follow-up assessments, participation in the study takes about one year.  Nearly 190 people with SCI have already participated in this program across the three sites. At Michigan, these interventions have been conducted three times and the study is preparing to conduct it for a fourth time, hopefully in early spring of 2021. Our study coordinator is Adrienne Roth and she is currently recruiting.  If you are interested in learning more about this study, please contact Adrienne at sends e-mail)or (734) 936-9474


Tom Hoatlin (left) and Sunny Roller (right) lead this study's 6-week in-person intervention. 

Developing a Patient-Centered Measure of Caregiver Relationships

This study, funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, is developing a new measure of the quality of the relationship that people with SCI have with their caregivers. This measure should be useful to people with SCI, both clinicians and agencies that hire caregivers, as well as to researchers. Earlier, this study gathered ideas from people with SCI, caregivers serving this population, and as clinicians, in order to build a large pool of potential items. Staff are now conducting interviews with adults with SCI who receive caregiving, nationwide. Interviews take between 45 – 75 minutes to complete. People who join this study will be compensated $35 for their study participation. If you are interested in learning more about this study, please call (734) 936-1977 or send an email to: sends e-mail).

Healthy Aging, Environment and Spinal Cord Injury

Adults who have SCI may face different aging challenges than those adults without SCI. The purpose of this research study, funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, is to understand how the environment and neighborhoods affect the health of people aging with SCI in Michigan and surrounding states. While most studies on aging focus on the problems that people experience as they age, this study is also looking at the factors that promote health as people age with SCI. The research team has completed collecting interviews for this study, which involved individual interviews and focus groups. Analysis of the data is now being done as well as writing ups study results so that they can be shared, with clinicians, researchers and people with SCI.

The Wireless Motility Capsule Neurogenic Bowel in Spinal Cord Injury

Gastrointestinal issues (GI) are a problem for many people with SCI. This study investigates the use of a new technology, the Wireless Motility Capsule, or SmartPill. Participants swallow the SmartPill and as it goes through the GI tract, it provides information about how long it takes for food to flow through the different components of the GI tract, as well as the pressure in the GI tract.  We hope the results from this study will provide new information about the GI system after SCI. The principal investigator for this study is Dr. Gianna Rodriguez of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. It is being funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Phenomenology of Chronic Pain After Spinal Cord Injury: Experience, Adaptation, and Quality of Life

This study, funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, is working to provide SCI clinicians and researchers with new knowledge that better integrates the social dimension of persons living with and trying to manage SCI-related chronic pain. Questions that we are addressing include: How do those with pain navigate their daily lives to minimize the impact of their pain? What role to friends and family, activities, and other social interactions play in helping cope with chronic pain? How would these outcomes help healthcare better understand SCI-related chronic pain and creative ways to manage it? This study included interviews as well as in-home observations of people going about their lives while in pain. All of our data has been collected and we are in the process of analyzing it now. We hope to provide some useful findings in the coming months.